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29/3/2012 - Italy - From the eduacation of one boy to the education of a village
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(ANS – Turin) – From an undertaking in favour of just one person advantages can be derived for a whole community. This happened in the case of William, a Tanzanian boy of Masai origin who benefitted from the help of many people and from education by the Salesians in Turin. Now he intends to repay his debt for the benefit of the less fortunate children of his village.
William has many of the typical characteristics of a young Masai, including large holes in his ear-lobes. However his story, as taken from the daily paper La Stampa, is quite uncommon. In the past he worked in the pastures, covering dozens of kilometres a day taking meat to the miners, and later as a vendor of Masai necklaces in Zanzibar.  There he got to know  an Italian couple who offered to pay for his schooling on the island. “I accepted willingly”, he relates, “because I always loved school, to the point of being unable to leave books aside.”

After finishing secondary school in Zanzibar, in 2008 was adopted and came to Turin where he enrolled in the “Edoardo Agnelli” Salesian High School. Here, with the passage of time, he became very popular among his companions. He told how he had confronted a lion at night and of the time he saw gold prospectors being killed by machete. But according to Fr. Albert Zanini, the school Principal, it was especially his passion for study which surprised and captivated his companions.

At present William attends the third year and is the “President of the Republic” of the students, which is, within the school, modelled on the state structure. He wants to go to university to complete his eduction, but his dream is to return to Elerai, his native village in Tanzania, and found a school.  “I want the children of my village to be able to go to school as I have done”.

Last summer William faced his first return home. There in his village he taught  a class of 30 children various subjects, such as the Swahili and Masai languages and mathematics. He himself made by hand  the blackboard and benches, situated in the shade of a tree.

Before William can realise his aim he still has to face many challenges, but meanwhile his enthusiasm is spreading and inspiring other people.  The Council of the Agnelli Institute is considering a project to help him, while some youngsters of the Salesian missionary programme are thinking of going with him on his next trip.

Published 29/03/2012

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